Smoking Gun

Don’t follow the leader. Also, please don’t smoke. The leader self-medicates whilst smokers die early. That may be true but with a caveat unearthed by scientists: the novel corona virus seems to dislike nicotine and apparently shies away from smokers. Medical authorities in China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere discovered that smokers are seriously underrepresented in the pandemic’s statistics.

Crunching the numbers, it would appear that nicotine junkies are half as likely to become infected as those who quit or never took up the habit. In one study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCs) in the US, a random sample of some 7,000 covid-19 patients turned up only about 70 smokers (1%). An estimated 14 percent of the US population has yet to kick to habit, indicating that lighting up seems to offer some form of immunity.

There is also a bout of bad news: should a smoker become infected, he or she is more likely than others to end up in intensive care and succumb to the disease.

Puzzled by their findings, scientists are looking for an explanation to this politically incorrect phenomenon. The University of Oxford got involved and its scientists now suspect that nicotine may disturb the proper functioning of the integral proteins that dwell on the cell membrane. These ‘transporter’ proteins are the vehicle of choice used by the corona virus to penetrate cells.

French scientists of the renowned Pasteur Institute hypothesise that the novel virus is locked in a competition with nicotine for the use of these transporter proteins. Following this line of reasoning, they now want to study if the use of nicotine patches may help prevent infection and/or speed up a patient’s recovery.

Expect President Donald Trump to take up smoking before long. He is already taking hydroxychloroquine against the advice of his White House physicians. The drug, originally intended for the treatment of malaria, has dangerous and possibly lethal side effects when administered without close medical supervision. Evidence of its effectiveness in fighting the corona virus has been inconclusive. Recent studies have found no indication that it helps bolster the immune system.

That doesn’t bother President Trump at all. He is a risk taker and admits to taking hydroxychloroquine in an attempt to prevent infection. He is determined to be the last man standing. Mr Trump also refuses to wear a facemask as it would detract from his presidential aura. As if.